Monday, 22 May 2017

A Stormtrooper story in Star Wars Battlefront II



Star Wars Battlefront was a gorgeous game, but lacked a single player campaign. The upcoming sequel appears to address this with a story mode focussing on Imperial forces in the wake of the destruction of the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi.

Star Wars Battlefront II will follow Iden Versio (Janina Gavankar), commander of Inferno Squad an Imperial special forces unit, from the end of Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens.

A new developer diary, posted on the official PlayStation YouTube channel, chronicles the production of Star Wars Battlefront II and Lucasfilm Story Group's involvement in the creative process.



Incidentally, Amazon Prime members can read Official PlayStation Magazine for free using the Kindle app. Star Wars Battlefront II is featured in the latest issue.

Stay tuned for further coverage of Star Wars Battlefront II during E3.

Star Wars Battlefront II is out on 17th November for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Tom Hardy cast in Spider-Man spin-off Venom



Tom Hardy, fresh from reading a bedtime story on CBBC, is playing Eddie Brock in Sony's upcoming Spider-Man spin-off. Venom.

Whilst Hardy's casting as the alien symbiote was met with enthusiasm. He played DC Comics' Bane in Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy. News the spin-off is not directly linked to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), possibly precluding a face-off against Tom Holland's Spider-Man, is a fly in the ointment. However, it would be a surprising missed opportunity, by the studio, in the wake of so much goodwill following Captain America: Civil War.

Venom was last seen on the big screen in Sam Raimi's middling Spider-Man 3 in 2007. Sony's gambling on Spider-Man: Homecoming successfully rebooting the franchise and there's a PlayStation exclusive Spider-Man video game to promote, too. More news on the latter at E3. Hopefully.

Venom, directed by Ruben Fleischer, will usher in further spin-offs. Is the comic book cinematic universe in danger of further brand dilution? I stopped reading comics in the mid 1990s as it became expensive and, frankly, a chore to follow Marvel's or DC Comics' increasingly fractured, commercially cynical, universes. This has now transferred to film and television adaptations, where I've stopped following franchises. Because bored.

This may appear frivolous on my part and I'm no stranger to a time when geeks didn't have the luxury of Hollywood's current superhero stable featuring multi-movie story arcs and infinite reboots.

Production begins on Venom later this year with a release date of 5th October 2018. Perhaps in time for the launch of PlayStation 5. Tom, would you mind signing one for me?

Friday, 19 May 2017

A prequel to The Dark Crystal is coming to Netflix



Netflix has announced a prequel series to Jim Henson's classic tale The Dark Crystal.

Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is set many years prior to the events depicted in the 1982 movie that pushed the boundaries of animatronics within a divided world, Thra, that evoked J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. The Gelflings are caught up in a battle between the peaceful Mystics and power-hungry Skeksis.

Frank Oz co-directed The Dark Crystal with Jim Henson and, as a fledgling film fan, it was impossible not to be acutely aware of story similarities between The Dark Crystal and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi the following summer. Mythological tropes I'd actively seek out evermore.

Information regarding the upcoming 10-part prequel series is scant. However, Netflix released a teaser trailer that has captured fans imaginations around the world.



Director Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans) will executive produce the series and direct. Leading the writing are co-executive producers Jeffrey Addiss, Will Matthews, and Javier Grillo-Marxuach (The 100).

“Louis Leterrier is passionate about the world of ‘The Dark Crystal’ and has an incredible creative vision for the series,” said Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company. “He brings this passion to every facet of the production as he leads the talented team of artists and writers that are bringing this entire universe to life. Netflix has a deep respect for my father’s original work and the many people it inspired. They are the perfect partners to create this next epic chapter in ‘The Dark Crystal’ story for new fans and the loyal fans who have waited so long for more adventures from this world.”

Trevor Jones' soundtrack for The Dark Crystal remains a touchstone, and I hope the prequel series will reprise those memorable motifs from Jim Henson's world of wonder...

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Star Trek: Discovery is live-action Mass Effect



The first trailer for Star Trek: Discovery has dropped on Netflix. The upcoming prequel series takes place a decade before the adventures of Kirk, Spock and Bones in the original Star Trek.



The Klingons have undergone a CGI makeover, which may be divisive, and Sarek, Spock's father, has a pivotal role to play. Discovery isn't short of interpersonal conflict, but a return to exploration and a sense of wonder, a hallmark of the franchise, is welcome in the wake of the big screen Star Trek reboot with which this isn't directly connected.

However, Discovery seems more a part of the Paramount Pictures cinematic universe than the original series and it could double as a Mass Effect live-action series. The latter unashamedly borrowed from the former. So, we've come full circle. Will Sonequa Martin Green (The Walking Dead) channel FemShep?

Star Trek: Discovery's inaugural season, running for 15 episodes, is coming to CBS All Access and Netflix outside the US this Fall.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 this November



LEGO video games are becoming an annual treat for this brick fan in the wake of recent releases LEGO Jurassic World and LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Whilst I missed out on the first installment of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes in 2013. The newly announced sequel is going to be competing for playtime with Star Wars: Battlefront II this November.

Watch the teaser trailer for LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 featuring Baby Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.



“With a completely original branching storyline, LEGO® Marvel Super Heroes 2 introduces amazing new gameplay features, including the ability for characters to manipulate time and a four-player competitive Super Hero battling mode,” said Tom Stone, Managing Director, TT Games. “With a huge array of brand new characters from the Marvel universe, including old favourites in new guises, this game is sure to thrill both LEGO® and Marvel fans, as well as newcomers to the series.”

“The LEGO® Group is delighted to continue the stories of the legendary Marvel characters in a new LEGO® adventure,” said Sean McEvoy, VP Digital Games, The LEGO® Group. “Fans young and old will love playing through this all-new cosmic saga spanning the Marvel Universe as seen through the LEGO® lens.”

“As we look to bring amazing games to Marvel fans of all ages, we’ve teamed up yet again with our incredible partners at LEGO, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and TT Games,” said Jay Ong, SVP, Games & Innovation, Marvel Entertainment. “LEGO® Marvel Super Heroes 2 brings characters from across Marvel’s history into an original story told in a way that only LEGO games can, offering hours of epic gameplay.”

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 will be released for PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC on 14th November.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

The Orville channels Star Trek spoof Galaxy Quest



The Star Trek franchise has been affectionately lampooned in popular culture for decades. From Futurama to Galaxy Quest. Now, Seth MacFarlane embarks on a galactic odyssey in The Orville on Fox this Fall.

The humour evokes Galaxy Quest, a movie I adore, as evidenced by this trailer.



The pilot is directed by genre stalwart Jon Favreau (Iron Man). So, the series has pedigree and could fill the void as fans await Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access and Netflix outside the US.

Looking forward to The Orville? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Marvel's mutants unleashed in The Gifted



Marvel and Fox have dropped an extended trailer for The Gifted.

The upcoming X-Men spin-off, with a pilot directed by Bryan Singer (X-Men: Apocalypse), isn't a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) over at Disney.



The Gifted joins Legion at Fox this Fall. The channel goes up against The CW with its DC Comics superhero stable including Arrow, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash and Supergirl. The multiverse goes from strength to strength and DC's Legends of Tomorrow transformed in the wake of new cast members and a soft reboot during its second series.

Could The Gifted lead to further X-Men spin-offs featuring Cyclops or Storm? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Mass Effect on ice as EA focusses on Star Wars



Looks like the Mass Effect franchise is on hiatus in the wake of a much-maligned EA Access early preview and middling reviews.

You can read my initial impressions of Mass Effect: Andromeda here.

Post launch patches have improved visual fidelity immeasurably. To the point that the divisive game now resembles a pretty polished product and begs the question: why didn't EA delay the release for a few more months? Andromeda was purportedly in production for several years as its budget ballooned. This isn't unique in AAA game development.

I read somewhere the alpha build used the Unreal engine before switching to stablemate DICE's Frostbite! This comparison video is insightful for anyone with an interest in the creative process.



Personally, I've sunk 40-hours or so into exploring Andromeda and am enjoying the witty banter between squad members, aboard the Nomad, and combat. The sudoku puzzles not so much. Music is a hallmark of the franchise. Curiously, there are strange silences despite a rich soundtrack worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster.

The latest Mass Effect installment and PlayStation exclusive Horizon Zero Dawn should keep me occupied until Bungie releases Destiny 2 this September. Well, unless I cave in and buy a Nintendo Switch with a copy of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in the meantime.

However, Kotaku reached out to Electronic Arts and the publisher responded on the future of the franchise with a statement from BioWare Montreal studio director Yanick Roy:

“Our teams at BioWare and across EA put in tremendous effort bringing Mass Effect Andromeda to players around the world. Even as BioWare continues to focus on the Mass Effect Andromeda community and live service, we are constantly looking at how we're prepared for the next experiences we will create. 

The teams in EA Worldwide Studios are packed with talent, and more than ever, we are driving collaboration between studios on key projects. 

With our BioWare and Motive teams sharing studio space in Montreal, we have BioWare team members joining Motive projects that are underway. We're also ramping up teams on other BioWare projects in development.

There will be much more to come from BioWare in the years ahead.”

Frustratingly, this leaves a subplot, that ties into a theory I have concerning Cerberus, unresolved. Hope BioWare continues to support Andromeda with free future DLC, expanding on the universe whilst tying up loose ends, as a goodwill gesture for early adopters. Unlikely. A new untitled IP has been pushed back to 2018/19 and EA's ramping up Star Wars releases.

Do you think the beloved Mass Effect franchise should be retired? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Judge Dredd is the law in Mega-City One TV spin-off



The 2000 AD sci-fi comic started in 1977 along with the US premiere of a space opera set in a galaxy far, far away... Both 2000 AD and Star Wars would form the backdrop to my youth and foundation for future friendships.

However, I didn't start reading 2000 AD until my late paternal grandfather gifted me a copy, during a holiday by the Jurassic Coast, in the summer of 1979. Until then, I was avidly reading Dan Dare reprints, Marvel's Star Wars comic and Starburst magazine.

The ABC Warriors had been unleashed and later Rogue Trooper's endless war with the Norts took over high school lunchtime discussions, and GCSE Art and Design lessons, with fellow geeks in the 1980s.

So, when news broke of a Judge Dredd television series, my interest was instantly piqued. Afterall, my nickname at high school, in an era when Harrison Ford was linked to the titular role for a future film, was Judge Dredd. Because chiselled jaw.

"This is one of those seminal sci-fi properties that seems to only become and more relevant with age," IM Global Television boss Mark Stern told Entertainment Weekly (EW). "Not only is it a rich world with biting social commentary, but it’s also fun as hell! As a fan of the comics and both films, it’s a dream come true to be able to work with Jason and Chris in adapting this for television."

"We’re very excited to be beginning the journey to get more of Judge Dredd’s Mega-City One on the television screen,” says the Kingsleys. "Thanks to the legions of fans who have kept up pressure on social media, and a lot of background work and enthusiasm, we aim to make a big budget production that will satisfy both our vast comics audience and the even greater general screen-watching public."

Mark Stern shepherded the Battlestar Galactica reboot. A seminal sci-fi series that found critical acclaim early last decade.

The two Judge Dredd movie adaptations have had varying degrees of success. Sylvester Stallone was miscast as Judge Dredd in 1995 and fans (myself included) took issue with the iconic character removing his helmet. But, James Earl Jones', the voice of Darth Vader, opening narration was the most memorable part and left me yearning for more Star Wars.

Who would you like to see playing Judge Dredd in a television spin-off? Star Trek's Karl Urban wasn't too shabby in the gritty film noir from 2012. Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Bryan Singer brings the X-Men to Fox in The Gifted



Legion isn't the only X-Men cinematic universe spin-off to grace television screens in 2017. Franchise stalwart Bryan Singer has directed the pilot for The Gifted. An upcoming series from Marvel and Fox.

Action-adventure family drama THE GIFTED, from Marvel, tells the story of a suburban couple whose ordinary lives are rocked by the sudden discovery that their children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family joins up with an underground network of mutants and must fight to survive.



Amy Acker (Angel) and Stephen Moyer (True Blood) head up the cast as parents of mutant children. A Stan Lee cameo has been teased on Instagram.

The Gifted premieres on Fox this Fall.